Inspiriting Womens rights movement.
Women did not always find life as easy as it is today. The Women’s Rights Movement, changed society, into what we know it to be today. Women around the world were considered to be inferior to men, but over many years of hard work and devotion, women finally gained equality. Women were a man’s property, were not considered a “person”, could not hold jobs, and were not allowed to vote.
In earlier years, women were inferior to men in many ways. Women and their children seemed to be owned by the father and husband. The laws brought over from Great Britain, seemed to be the reason for these laws. Women did not have any property rights and once she was married, she was no longer allowed to own land, could not keep the money she earned for herself and was not allowed the care and control of her children. A man was able to sell the family farm, take all the money for himself, and leave his wife and children behind with nothing. Also, if a man died without writing a will, his wife was not able to inherit anything, including any of the money she may have earned herself, or the land she had owned before her marriage. The Women’s Rights Movement, helped women throughout the country by passing laws stating that women could in fact own part of her husbands estate. In Alberta, the Dower Act was passed in the early 1900’s, giving women the legal right to one third of her husbands estate during his life, and after his death. In 1922, married women in Alberta were finally given the right to own property in her own name. Emily Murphy was the woman behind these new laws in Alberta. The 1920’s were a giant stepping stone for women. This right to own property, made women everywhere know that they were able to do things without a husband to depend on. It gave them strength, which women still find today.
In the begining of the 1900’s, a woman was not considered a person. The British North America Act of 1867 used the word persons when it reffered to more than one person , and the word he , when it reffered to only one person. Many people believed that the use of the word he , meant that when they reffered to more than one person, they were also reffering only to men. The act also said that only “qualified persons” could be appointed to the Senate. Women’s groups began pressuring the federal government to appoint a woman to the Senate, and many wanted Emily Murphy to be this woman. They declined this issue, saying that she could not be part of the Senate, when women were not considered persons in federal law. In 1927, Emily Murphy, Nellie McClung, Irene Parlby, Louis McKinney and Henrietta Edwars, nicknamed “The Valiant Five” asked the Supreme Court of Canada to answer the following question : Are women persons? After five long weeks of debaits and arguments, the Supreme Court of Canada decided that the definition of the word person , did not include women. The Valiant Five brought the Persons case to the Privy Council in England, which was Canada’s highest court. On October 18th 1929, the Privy Court, finally announced that women were indeed persons. This decision was a big one for Canadian women.